For years I thought Satay was a Chinese dish. This was probably due to the fact that the most exotic food we had growing up was from the local takeaway where they had the skewers as a starter dish! I have spent a long time researching and trying out different satay recipes and have discovered that it originated in South East Asia with Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand all laying claim to this popular street food.
As you know from the name of this blog, I have a fairly substantial collection of cookbooks. Among this collection there are about 10 recipes for Satay and they are all completely different! From Rick Stein’s Far Eastern Odyssey, Bill Granger’s Everyday Asian, Gizzi Erskine’s Skinny Weeks and Weekend Feasts to my latest purchase of Ping Coombe’s Malaysia. I have been waiting some time for this book from the Masterchef 2014 winner and it does not disappoint. It is simply stunning and I think I’ll be using it a lot.
Anyway, I digress. Back to the Satay. I decided to give it another bash having read Ping’s recipe. There are many ways to make it and many methods of making it quickly. These range from using a ready made curry paste to using peanut butter as the main flavouring. I have found using a lot of peanut butter gives the sauce a really claggy texture and makes it unpleasant to eat.
A few notes on the recipe:
- I use peanuts which are plain from a health shop so they have no salt on them. I roast them in a moderate oven for about 10 minutes and rub them with a tea towel to remove most of the skins. If you choose to use salted peanuts be careful of the rest of your seasoning such as the soy sauce as there could be an overpowering taste of salt.
- I made tamarind juice by soaking pulp in boiling water, as explained here on my recipe for Beef Rendang. Feel free to use a little concentrate instead or if you can’t get any tamarind, use a couple of tablespoons of lime juice.
- Kecap Manis is an Indonesian sweet soy sauce. If you can’t get it use more soy sauce and add some brown sugar, molasses or extra honey to make up the sweetness.
- I have made this with beef but you can use chicken or pork or even tofu. The beef needs to be marinated, preferably overnight but a few hours will do if you are pushed for time.
- The peanut sauce can be made ahead and just reheated before using.
- This recipe has a nice mild kick of chilli but feel free to add more if you would like a hotter dish.
The recipe is for 2 people or more as a starter, there will be leftover peanut sauce to freeze for later.
- 400g of beef, trimmed and cut into 2cm cubes. I use sirloin or striploin steaks
- 2 stalks of lemongrass
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
- 3cm piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 kaffir lime leaves
- 1 tsp of ground cumin
- 100ml of coconut milk
- 1 tbsp. of kecap manis
- 1 tsp of dark soy sauce
- 1 tsp of vegetable oil
- 1 red chilli
- 1 tbsp. of ground turmeric
For the peanut sauce
- 200g of roasted peanuts
- 10 dried red chillis
- ½ a medium onion, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, peeled
- 5cm piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
- 2 stalks of lemongrass, tough outer layer removed
- 60ml of tamarind juice
- 1 tbsp. of peanut butter
- 1 tbsp. of kecap manis
- 1 tbsp. of dark soy sauce
- 1 tsp. of honey
- 1 tbsp of oil
- 300ml of coconut milk
- Start by preparing the beef and marinade. Trim the woody ends from the lemongrass and remove the tough out layer. Bruise the stalks by bashing them with the bottom of a knife and chop into small pieces. Add them and the remainder of the marinade ingredients except for the turmeric into a food processor and blend until you have a smooth paste.
- Pour the paste into a bowl and stir through the turmeric. If you put the turmeric into the food processor it will turn completely yellow, trust me! Add the cubed beef to the bowl and mix it thoroughly so that the meat is completely covered in the marinade. Cover and place in the fridge to marinade.
- To make the peanut sauce, roast the peanuts in the oven as described above and allow them to cool. Remove the skins but don’t worry if some remain, it doesn’t make too much difference to the sauce. Keep a few peanuts back for garnishing at the end and pulse the rest in the food processor until they resemble large breadcrumbs.
- Place the dried chillis in some boiling water for 10 minutes. Remove from the water once they have rehydrated and cut them open to remove their seeds. Add to the pulsed peanuts.
- Put the onion, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, tamarind juice, peanut butter, kecap manis, dark soy sauce and honey in with the peanuts and blend until you have a paste.
- Heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat and use a spatula to scrape the paste into the oil. Fry for 5-10 minutes until the paste is cooked and starts to darken in colour. It may split while you cook it, don’t worry about this.
- Add the coconut milk allow the sauce to simmer for about 15 minutes. Taste it to see if it needs any seasoning or extra honey for sweetness. Add some water if you would like a thinner sauce.
- When you are ready to serve, soak some bamboo skewers in water for 15 minutes. This is to stop them from burning when cooking the beef. Take the beef out of the fridge to allow it come to room temperature before cooking.
- Remove the beef from the marinade. Thread 4-5 cubes of beef onto each skewer. This will make about 6 skewers, use less beef per skewer if you want more as a starter dish.
- Heat a griddle pan over a high heat- you can also cook these on a barbecue or under a hot grill. Cook the skewers over a high heat until slightly charred and cooked to your liking.
- Serve the peanut sauce on the side to use as a dipping sauce. If you want a to make this a main meal, serve a little cucumber and carrot salad on the side and some boiled basmati or jasmine rice. Garnish with some fresh coriander, extra peanuts and sliced red chilli. Who needs takeaway?!